Catholic Activity: Salt Dough Crown of Thorns
Similar to the Advent activity of Straws in the Manger a crown of thorns made from salt dough or grapevine wreath can inspire children to penance and self-denial through Lent.
I used flat craft picks or blunt craft picks for younger children. Regular toothpicks are sharp and remind of Jesus' crown of thorns, but I wasn't ready to poke myself in trying to be accurate.
Preheat oven to 325-350 degrees F.
Mix 2 cups of flour with 1 cup of salt. Gradually add 3/4 to 1 cup of water or strong coffee while mixing. The coffee makes the crown darker and more realistic.
If the dough is sticky, add more flour, if dry, add more water or coffee. Adding more salt will harden the dough.
Knead together very well until the consistency of bread dough.
Optional, but let the dough rest a bit for at least a half hour before forming.
Divide the dough into three equal parts. Roll the dough into 3 cylinder shapes or "snakes", at least 20 inches long.
Braid the three parts together and form a ring. Wet both ends to connect together.
Insert "thorns" all over the crown.
Place on a foil covered cookie sheet.
Bake until light golden brown, allowing about 1/2 hour baking time for each 1/4" thickness. This will take some time to bake until hard.
Optional, after 15 minutes baking, brush with egg white mixture. This gives it a shinier appearance, but it does make the "thorns" harder to remove.
If the dough puffs up, poke a hole with a pin or toothpick to release air, and reduce oven temperature by 50° to 75°.
Prepare as a centerpiece display. Place a small container to hold the removed "thorns".
On Holy Saturday evening, this crown of thorns can be replaced with an Easter wreath.
The crown cannot be reused, so this will need to be re-made every year.
Activity Source: Original Text (JGM) by Jennifer Gregory Miller, © Copyright 2003-2022 by Jennifer Gregory Miller